Chef Michael Paley Looks South to Atlanta

The executive chef at Louisville's Proof on Main talks about participating in the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Chef Michael Paley.

Where are you getting the pizza oven from?

I did a lot of research for a year, and zeroed in on ovens made by Stefano Ferrara in Naples. So we got the oven and it’s supposed to arrive in about four weeks. We ordered it in January. Once you place the order they start to build it.


You’ve talked about the importance of creating a great bar. What are you planning to do to make that happen?

We’re working on that whole menu more. We’re looking to do some artisanal beers. We want to have a growler program. There will be eight beers on tap. I’m not sure how many bottles yet. Being where we are, there are tons of beers we want to get, but allocations are a little difficult. And then of course, everyone in Louisville has to have a strong bourbon program. We plan on having maybe about 25 to 30 and a small but quality, affordable wine selection.


What do you think about the Neapolitan-style movement sweeping the country? What will you be doing?

I think it’s great, what I really can’t wait to do is get in the space and work with the dough. That’s the key. Neapolitan tends to be a little more wet, and I definitely want to go for a crispy middle ground. But I love the size, that 10- to 11-inch size. I’m really looking for something with a great crust. What I love is it’s all about the crust. Essentially you’re trying to make a really great bread.


Any special toppings or pies you’re going to be doing?

We’re still deciding on the mozzarella. We’ll definitely use fresh toppings — do seven or eight pies with seasonal specials. Everything will be somewhat seasonal.


You’re from New Jersey. What’s your favorite Jersey pizzeria?

It’s not there anymore. It’s still a pizzeria but it’s a different place now. But when I go to New York I always go to John’s of Bleecker.


Chefs are often asked the same questions, what’s the question you most wish you were asked?

I don’t know. I generally like people who enjoy talking about a dish, when they really want to know what went into it technically. Sometimes you’re just looking at beet salad on the plate and they don’t know what kind of beets, why we used watercress and not arugula. That’s kind of what we get off on talking about.